The Career Lessons Learned Of Senior Colorist Ferg Rotherham

April 1, 2024

Senior Colorist Ferg Rotherham shares wisdom learned from his mentors and cinematographers, freelancing, and how to surprise your clients.


Lessons from Colourist Mentors, Cinematographers, and Tips On Grading Quickly and Surprising Clients

I’m excited to share my interview with Ferg Rotherham. He’s a senior colourist and his credits include “The Pope’s Exorcist”, “Heartbreak High”, and “Boy Swallows Universe.”

We discuss his journey in the industry and the mentors who have shaped his career. Fergus also talks about his transition into long-form grading and the challenges of managing his own schedule as a freelancer.

We talk about the process of grading some of his recent projects and the challenges when transitioning from theatrical grade to HDR.

Senior Colorist Ferg Rotherham
Senior Colorist Ferg Rotherham

Key takeaways from this Insight

  • Starting as an assistant and being mentored by experienced colorists is a valuable learning experience in the industry.
  • Managing clients and running a grading room requires technical skills and the ability to handle different personalities and opinions.
  • Developing a personal style as a colorist can help distinguish your work and attract clients.
  • Balancing short and long-form grading projects can be challenging, but having strong relationships with directors and DOPs can help maintain a steady workflow.
  • Transitioning from theatrical grade to HDR requires contrast, levels, and color adjustments to maintain the intended look.
  • Remote work can revolutionize the industry, allowing for greater collaboration and the ability to work on projects from anywhere.
  • Recognition and awards are important in the industry as they validate professionals’ hard work and talent.
  • Adapting a story for the screen requires balancing staying true to the source material and creating a visually compelling experience.
  • Taking an overview approach and leaving room for perspective can help colorists maintain a fresh perspective and make better decisions in their work.

External Links

Related Mixing Light Insights


  • 00:00 – Introduction
  • 02:00 – Mentors
  • 03:17 – The Role of an Assistant Colorist
  • 08:58 – Managing Time and the Room
  • 11:21 – Transitioning from Commercials to Long Form
  • 23:01 – Working with Different Color Management Systems
  • 27:36 – Creating the Look for ‘The Pope’s Exorcist’
  • 33:20 – Grading Reel by Reel
  • 35:05 – Transitioning to HDR
  • 38:24 – ‘Trim Days’ and Collaboration
  • 39:08 – Theatrical vs. HDR
  • 41:04 – Working Remotely
  • 44:22 – Recognition and Awards
  • 49:55 – Grading ‘The Unusual Suspects’
  • 50:52 – Creating the Look for ‘The Unusual Suspects’
  • 54:52 – Working with DPs Shelley Farthing-Dore and Mark Wareham
  • 56:19 – Learning from Experienced DPs
  • 1:02:28 – Working with references
  • 01:04:22 – Moving to Queensland

Questions or Comments? Leave a comment!

Did Ferg say something helpful or surprising? Discover+ and Premium members can share their thoughts in the comments below!

– Kali

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